Thursday, February 21, 2013

Recipes from a Shona world

‘Kubika Machikichori’ by members of the Zimbabwe Women Writers, compiled by Colette Mutandadura and edited by Keresia Chateuka, published 2007, Harare, isbn: 978-0-7974-3432-5
In Africa one’s mother or grandmother is one’s historian and librarian. These are very powerful people but if you do not look carefully, you may not see it. Most of the folktales that we remember today were handed down to us by our grandmothers. They remember and recreate them for us. They are everything; authors, singers, seers and dramatists. Most of our family history is usually passed down to us by our mothers.  A woman keeps the history of her people and that of the family that she marries into. In a world where wives tend to outlive their husbands, the woman becomes an asset. I am saying this because of ‘Kubika Machikichori', a recipe book by the seemingly ordinary women  writers of Goromonzi. These women remembered to document what we eat and how to prepare it.

‘Kubika Machikichori' Shona for preparing delicious meals, carries traditional recipes by women from around Goromonzi area about 50 km east of Harare, Zimbabwe. This book was compiled by founding member of Zimbabwe Women Writers (ZWW), novelist Colette Mutangadura and edited by Keresia Chateuka. Here you find simple recipes that are easy to follow. You are reminded of so many things that you throw away when you should be eating them.

One of Esnath Mutembedza’s recipes is about how to make nhopi yemanhanga, pumpkin mash. We take nhopi for granted but we may not be able to prepare it because gogo who used to do it for us is long gone! The ingredients:a pumpkin, peanut butter, mealie meal and water. Method:  Wash the pumkin. Cut it into slices. Peel off the outer pumpkin skin with a knife. Scrap off all the pumpkin seeds with a knife. Cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces. Place them in a pot and heat gradually. Add a liittle water. Boil on the fire until the pumkin turns to pulp. Make sure the pulp doesn’t burn by stiring it constantly. Add somewater and a cup of mealie meal. Stir and beat them together with a cooking stick. Add peanut butter and continue to beat them together. Add some water and mix until the reaches the thickness of your choice. Serve and enjoy with your family.

 One of Colette Mutangadura’s recipes is about preparing Dondori remazhanje, a side dish from the mazhanje fruit. We see mazhanje every summer but there is much more we could do with them! The ingredients: two dishes of mazhanje fruit, a cupful of mealie meal,two table spoons of honey. Method: clean the fruit (mazhanje). Crush them and take away the seed from the pulp. Gradually mix the pulp with the honey so that it doesn’t become thick. Add water and boil into a thin porridge. Leave it to settle and cool for five minutes before serving. This can be taken as a dessert.

Plaxede Kaseke writes amazingly about how to make coffee out of ground okra seed. Sarudzai Ndamba writes about how to make porridge with flour from the baobab fruit. She also demonstrates how to make tough bread called chikodzamvana. Angeline Marange writes about how to make jam from guava fruit.

Through the sixty recipes written in Shona, these women have helped preserve our oral heritage.  The fig fruit could be dried in honey and come in as dessert! Or, do you still remember the wonderful buns baked between the wide leaves of the mutukutu plant? Most of us no longer know how to extract oil from nuts or pumpkin seed. We do not know how to prepare the offals and head of a goat for the pot. We no longer know how to apply peanut but munyevhe. We walk away with raised heads, proud of our ignorance! This book is a call to return to the source.

 Published in several anthologies mostly by Zimbabwe Women Writers,  the compiler Collette Choto Mutangadura was born on 19 March 1945 in Hwedza and has a lot of work accredited to her name. She is the author of two novels, Rinonyenga Rinhwarara (1983) and Rutendo: The Chief’s Granddaughter (2009). The editor Keresia Chateuka is a veteran of the book industry who understands writing, proofreading, translation editing and sales. She is a long time field officer within ZWW itself.

To date, ZWW itself has published over fifteen books in various subjects from creative writing, scholarly books and this recipe book. Some of their books have been incorporated into the local Zimbabwe school syllabus while others are reference texts in institutes of higher learning across the globe.

For sometime now they have been winning national literary prizes, sometimes ahead of some very established authors and established literary houses. These include Zimbabwe Book Publishers Awards (ZBPA) and the National Arts and Merit Awards (NAMA).

Some of the founding women are prominent Zimbabwean writers like Barbara Nkala, Tawona Mtshiya, Chiedza Msengezi, Collette Mutangadura and Virginia Phiri. Even women from abroad, then resident in Zimbabwe, helped a lot. These are writers like the Ghanaian, Ama Ata Aidoo, the German scholar, Flora Veit-Wild and lawyer, Mary Tandon.
+Reviewed by Memory Chirere





No comments:

Post a Comment